Colleges and universities
worldwide are tapping
into the evolving genre
 of literature that focuses
on the changes coming
to Earth as the result of
 climate change — "cli-fi."

Some of the books and
movies now being
considered part of the
genre are old classics,
while others were written
more recently in direct
response to today's
changing climate.

"It's a very, very energized
time for this where people
in literature have just as
much to say as people
who are in hard science
fields, or technology and
design fields, or various
social-science approaches
to these things," said
Jennifer Wicke, an English
 professor at the University
of Virginia who will be
teaching a course this June
on climate fiction at the
Bread Loaf campus of
Middlebury College.

The Bread Loaf School of
English is mainly for
elementary- and high
school-level English
teachers who can, in
turn, take what they learn
back to their classrooms
to get their students to
understand how literature
can reflect current events.

"This course gives them
a kind of model for
helping to create and
imagine English courses
that will be particularly
relevant to helping the
young people whom
they teach to understand
that reading literature,
looking at the arts,
looking at film isn't
something you do as
an aside," said Bread
Loaf school director
Emily Bartels, also
a professor of English
at Rutgers University.
"It's something you do
as you learn how to
navigate your own
 moment in the 21st

Climate fiction, a term
 that emerged less than
a decade ago, is now
being discussed by
academics across the
 nation and world. Next
month, about three
dozen academics are
expected to attend a
workshop in Germany
called "Between Fact
and Fiction: Climate
Change Fiction,"
hosted by the Hanse

The website for the
workshop lists some
contemporary examples
 of books that fit the
definition: Barbara
Kingsolver's "Flight
Behavior," about an
Appalachian town to
which confused
monarch butterflies
have migrated; Nat
Rich's "Odds Against
Tomorrow," the story
of a mathematician
coping with catastrophe
in New York; and Paolo
Bacigalupi's "The
Water Knife," about
water wars in the southwestern U.S.

But some of the literature
now being recognized as
cli-fi was written decades,
or even centuries, ago.

Some of Shakespeare's works
focus on humanity's
relationship with nature.

Works of fiction such as
 H.G. Wells' "The War of
the Worlds" or "The Time
Machine" also fit the
profile of climate fiction,
Bartels said.

Retired Hampshire College
professor Charlene D'Avanzo,
a marine scientist who spends
her summers in Maine, is
about to publish her first
novel, "Cold Blood, Hot Sea,"
the first of a three-volume
series of what she describes
as "cli-fi eco-lit novel and
amateur sleuth mystery
novels" sparked by what
she sees as the harassment
of scientists studying
climate change.

She said that there's much
uncertainty in the scientific
study of climate change
and that readers are more
willing to accept uncertainty
in fiction.

"You have to make people
care," she said.